Oaxaca: Members of the APPO accused in the Brad Will case

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Reporter Brad Will, of Indymedia New York, was killed on October 27, 2006 [Source: Indymedia New York]

On October 16, 2008, Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno was detained by the Federal Investigations Agency (AFI, Agencia Federal de Investigación) along with Octavio Pérez Pérez and Hugo Jarid Colmenares Leyva. They were accused of the killing of New York Indymedia reporter Brad Will, from the United States, who was killed during a confrontation which occurred in Oaxaca City on October 27, 2006. Interestingly, the three detained men are all members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO, Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca). In addition, the Federal Attorney General’s office (PGR, Procuraduría General de la República) issued arrest warrants for six other individuals who were associated with the opposition. On October 22, 2008, the judge responsible for the case, Luis Salvador Cordero, stated that Juan Manuel Martínez was to be indicted and held in custody pending trial as the prime suspect in the killing of Will. His lawyer stated that he would appeal the judge’s decision at the federal level. The other two detainees, who were accused of harboring a criminal, were released on bail on October 18.

Amnesty International stated that these detentions “apparently contradicted the conclusions and recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos), as well as the independent forensic experts from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).” They added that “Both the CNDH as well and the PHR have demonstrated major concerns regarding inadequacies in the investigation. These include a lack of adequate evaluation of the forensic tests and a lack of investigation into all possible suspects, including state agents”.

The forensic experts from Physicians for Human Rights (an international organization which has contributed to cases at the International Criminal Court in the Hague) presented evidence which refuted the conclusions of the PGR which stated that Will died as a result of a close-range shot, implicating members of the APPO.

In general, the CNDH has questioned the management of the case on the part of the PGR. The president of the CNDH, José Luis Soberanes Fernández, stated that, “they [the PGR] wasted two years before starting the investigation. We sent them our recommendation and then they began to hurry; in 15 days they solved the case, but they ignored the evidence that we had sent them”. According to Soberanes, the PGR’s actions were the result of pressure exerted on the Mexican government by the United States: “They stated that they would not activate the resources [promised in] the Merida Initiative unless this case was solved, a case that should have been resolved regardless, and now we see the results”.

More Information:

Brad Will: Still Dead – and Kicking (Friends of Brad Will, 29/10/08)

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission Blames Plan Mexico for APPO Arrests (Friends of Brad Will, 25/10/08)

Ignoring Evidence Mexican Authorities Charge Activists with 2006 Murder of Independent Journalist Brad Will (Democracy Now, 20/10/08)

Urgent Action Mexico: Fear for Torture or Ill-treatment/Legal Concern: Juan Manuel Martinez (Amnesty International, 20/10/08)

Forensic Evaluation by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR, 03/10/08)

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